Helping Business Weather the Storm

Catastrophic Flooding Occurring in the Midwest

by Daphne Thompson, on Mar 18, 2019 3:25:34 PM

Rivers that were once frozen recently experienced rapid melting from a combination of warmer temperatures and heavy rains. In Plattsmouth, NE the Missouri River crested at 40.62 feet, nearly four feet higher than the previous record. The combination of melting and rainfall has led to historic flooding across Nebraska and Iowa.

As frozen rivers began to melt, large chunks of ice began to flow leading to ice jams (also called ice dams). When floating ice encounters obstacles, such as bridges, its movement is impeded. The river's flow is then reduced leading to flooding. Add heavy rain falling on the frozen ground, and you end up with a flood disaster.

Towns in Nebraska and Iowa are underwater, bridges have washed away, roads have been destroyed, and dams, dikes, and levees are failing. The above video clip shows how the Spencer Dam, located on the Niobrara River in Nebraska, destroyed from massive chunks of ice pushing against it. As other barriers of the Missouri River failed, numerous communities were quickly flooded. 

There have been three fatalities, two in Nebraska and one in Iowa. Thousands of residents have been displaced. For agriculture in the area, livestock are at risk of drowning and farmland is now underwater. Even the Omaha National Weather Service had to evacuate while issuing flood warnings and shut down their weather radar in the process.

At least 17 locations have set new flood records and not all rivers have crested. Viewing satellite images gives an idea of how massive this flood situation is right now. All of this water will eventually move downstream. So, those living further south on the Missouri River also need to be prepared for high water.   

Rushing waters, risks of electrocution, gas explosions, drowning, and the threats of pests, pestilence, water and mold damage all can accompany floods. Here are a few tips for dealing with this type of situation:

● Turn off gas valves fed to appliances, water valves, and the electricity on the main fuse box. 
● Unplug all electrical items and store them away from floodwaters.
● Move all inhabitants and pets to safe locations, ideally in pet carriers.
● Don’t eat or drink anything exposed to the likely contaminated floodwaters.
● Don’t use potentially contaminated water for washing or food preparations.
● Don’t drive through floodwaters. If stuck, exit the car and move to higher ground.